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Home / History / General Jovan Miskovic

General Jovan Miskovic

The indispensable academicians and generals Jovan Miskovic, Zivko Pavlovic, Stevan Boskovic, and Dukes Radomir Putnik, Zivojin Misic, Petar Bojovic and Stepa Stepanovic are among the most important officers who grew up in The Military Academy and who, with their work, left an indelible imprint on the time they lived in.

The strongest and the most exalted and the most versatile personality among the enumerated great men was the academician general Jovan Miskovic, who was the teacher and the model of respectability to his great heirs which we have mentioned.

The academician Jovan Cvijic, in his speech, on 25th October 1921, at the promotion ceremony of general Zivko Pavlovic for the member of The Academy of Science, pointed out that Jovan Miskovic was ‘probably the most educated officer of the time’ while the esteemed professor of The Military Academy, Bozidar Jovovic, in his book ‘Serbian Officers in National Culture’ said: ‘Among the most educated men and the best sons whom the Serbian cradle rocked was general and academician Jovan Miskovic.’ He was, indisputably, the most educated Serbian officer and belonged to the most educated soldiers of the armies on the territories on which a few states were formed under the name Yugoslavia. In his being, there were a man, a soldier and a scientist joined together… as a soldier, he was responsible for the thorough organization of The Serbian Army, military education and military science.’

Jovan Miskovic was born on 6th July 1844 in Negotin. On 6th September 1860, he enrolled for The Artillery School, i.e. The Military Academy. He left the school in 1865 as the fourth in the class with the average grade 4, 86. So, as it can be seen, he was an excellent student and he showed inclination towards solving military tasks and for scientific work. While he used to be the student, he understood very well the significance of the ground as one of the factors of the armed conflicts, so during the traveling through Serbia, which was organized every summer with the students by The Military Academy, he carefully took notes from those travels, and he especially made notes on the ground and its properties. It would be the beginnings of his scientific work and he will use the results, later, in many researches and scientific projects.

As the officer, he carried out almost all commands and other duties which were necessary in the then Serbian army. In the Serbian-Turkish War (1876-1877), he was the commandant of Cacak Brigade, and then Uzice Brigade and the commandant of Knjazevac Army, then the Head of Command of Timocka Army and the head of Operational Squad of the Supreme Command. In the Serbian-Turkish War (1885), he was the commandant of Drina Division, which took part in the Battle on Slivnica. From 1888 to 1890, he held the office of The Head of the main General Staff.

On duty of the Ministry of Defense, Jovan Miskovic was, for the first time, from 1878 to 1880 (for the second time in 1897) and for that time he carried out the reorganization of The Serbian Army, The main General Staff, The Ministry of Defense and The Military Academy, and by doing it, he laid the foundation of the modern Serbian army. As the Minister of Defense, he paid a special attention to the reorganization of The Military Academy, and in the program of its reorganization said:’ that the specially educated officers should graduate from The Military Academy’. He visited The Military Academy very often, he was present at the exams and very willingly talked to the students or held occasional lectures to them, but he always highlighted that the officer had to be universally educated and that, as the cultural person, fulfilled the military tasks with discipline. In the meetings with the students of the Military Academy and young officers, he very often pointed out the need of the constant improvement of officers. In one of his articles ‘ The friendly pieces of advice to the young officers’, published in the periodical ‘A warrior’ in 1883, he mentioned:’ If the graduate officers do not keep studying modern military science and do not try to constantly improve their knowledge, he will become a quack or the tied sack’. Certainly, Miskovic’s observations are very contemporary and for today officers very enlightening.

As the scientist, Miskovic was very productive author. His most important works in the military geography were:’ Traveling through Serbia’, ‘Hidrography of the Independent Principality of Serbia’ and ‘Through Bosnia, Herzegovina and Boka Kotorska’; in these works, it can be seen that he was the disciple of Felix Kanic and the predecessor of Jovan Cvijic. His important book from military history is ‘The War between Serbia and Turkey in 1877 / 1878’ and ‘The Battle of Kosovo’. Some of the mentioned books were published today, too (The Battle of Kosovo, for instance).

Besides the mentioned books, he also wrote and published series of articles in various periodicals, in the first place from tactics, the history of wars and military geography, but he predominantly wrote in the periodicals ‘Vojin’ and ‘A Warrior’, but also almost in all periodicals and newspapers of that time as ‘Homeland’, ‘ School’, ‘East’, ‘Future’, ‘Serbia’, etc. We will mention a few of the titles published in some of the listed periodicals:’Travel Notes from Zajecar and Cuprija’, ‘Again on our Land Forces’, ‘The view from Suvi Rt on The Old Serbia’, ‘Materials for Etnography and History of Serbia’, ‘In favor of our Military Strength’. ‘The Battle on Ljubic in 1815 with the Plan’, ‘The Forms of Infantry Battle’, ‘Is the War Useful to Us’, ‘ Military geographical Description of Grounds, on which Troops Operated in the War from 1877 to 1878’, ‘Excerpt from the Structure of Switzerland Army’. ‘The Structure of our Army’, ‘ A short Description of Jagodina’s District’, ‘ An Infantry Soldier’, ‘ Some Notes on Tactical Training of Troops’, ‘Saint Sava and the Serbian People’, etc.

The scientific work of Jovan Miskovic was very wide and versatile and it had the connections with various scientific fields, and in the first place military science. He translated military works from The French language:’ The Report on Artillery in the Field’ (‘The Vojin’), ‘Positive Tactics’ (‘A Warrior’), ‘Introduction to Tactic Training of Infantry’ (‘A Warrior’).

The academician general Jovan Miskovic was not distinguished only by exceptional military virtues. He was also above his contemporaries because of his moral characteristics. And because of those characteristics, The Prince Milan Obrenovic appointed him for the Minister of Defense, in the rank of lieutenant-colonel, although Prince Milan Obrenovic could choose among a few generals. On that occasion, Miskovic proved his exceptional moral personality, trying to dissuade Prince Milan from that intention in the interest of unity and good relations among the officers. On that occasion, too, he refused to accept offered rank of colonel, in order not to be separated form other officers and not to be exceptionally promoted.

He was chosen for the member of The Serbian Scholar Society in 1875 and for registered member of The Academy in 1892. Personal respect which he held in narrower circles as well as in wider sociopolitical environments brought to be proposed and chosen for the president of Serbian Royal Academy in 1900 as its seventh member.

As the president of The Serbian Royal Academy, whenever he was absent form the duty, he gave his presidential bonus to the Academy to use it in the most useful purposes. To this degree-granting institution he left his house. However, his library, which had a few hundreds of books, periodicals, and maps, gave as a present to the main General Staff. So, whatever he earned and created with his tireless work, he donated to the people. He emerged from the people and settled in them eternally.

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